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Paul Hackett talks about… (interview)

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Last Sunday (June 3,  2012) bridge star Paul Hackett from England was a guest of the Bridge Live Show, broadcast on BTCC ( Channel). BTCC is a new web TV produced by Neapolitan Club and  Mr Hackett  is one of the most well known and strongest players the England ever had and;  he is the father of  the great twins Jason and Justin Hackett, both world champions with the juniors 10 years ago and successfull professional players. The interview was hosted by Jan van Cleeff and  Laura Cecilia Porro. We publish here a short summary.

As usual, we start with five dilemmas. we give you 2 words and you have to choose one of them. I start with an easy one: Will England’s senior team qualify in the European championships in Dublin to go to Bali? Yes or no?


Paul is one of the most esteemed members of this team, we’ll come back to that. Now a dangerous question. For what concerns soccer, is it United or City?

If I go out with Justin it’s United, if I go out with Jason it’s city.

You are not allowed to pick both, you have to pick one.

Slightly more United, only just.

Now I have the most difficult question: Justin or Jason?

If I had to play with one of them, I normally play more with Justin than with Jason, Jason probably has more knowledge of the game than Justin, but they are both very very fine players.

If you could choose a sponsor for bridge would you prefer a personal sponsor or a corporate sponsor?

That very much depends, if you are going to a world championship then obviously a corporate sponsor would be much better. If you are going to play one of the festivals, then I much prefer a private sponsor, because you go out and enjoy yourself, you go out for dinner, you relax, it’s much more fun.

The last dilemma, about England and Dublin: Will England’s open team qualify to Bali?

I have been very impressed by Gold and Forrester, they are beginning to make  very strong. Whether they will qualify… We hope they will,  because I am English, I would like the English to qualify, but realistically they will find it very tough. They have the chance.

Is it a yes or a no?

I have to say yes I am British, I would not want any of my teams not to qualify. When I go to a football match with England I like England to to win, when I go to a cricket match I like England to win, so there’s no difference, when there is a bridge match I would like the English team to win.

Have you been a bridge professional all your life?

I have done nothing else other from playing bridge professionally apart from running bridge clubs. 

How often are you away from home?

It depends what you mean. I used to play bridge 6 days a week, now I am retired and I have cut it down to 5 days a week. I am abroad maybe between one and two weeks every month.

You lead a life that makes many jealous, you are always on cruises, sunny islands…

Not always sunny, if you go to Iceland it is cold, but there are some lovely places you can go to.

What is your best result ever, or is it still to come?

My best result was to play on the same team as Jason and Justin in the World Championship, on a family team.

The EBU youth policy is concentrating only on primary school mini-bridge, as an end in itself, wouldn’t it be better to target a different age group, maybe teenagers?

Junior bridge deserves all the support it has, it’s been proven that if you introduce minibridge to the 6 years old upwards, it actually improves their maths abilities so there is a good case to have bridge for the juniors. The other problem is that when they get to 17-18 y.o. the girls are less interested in continuing and a lot of the boys when they reach university just have not got the time, maybe the right age to get them hooked is when they are younger. Secondary school seems like a good place for that. We do have schools competitions, the schools do compete a lot, there’s a lot of teachers who are encouraging to go out and play bridge. We have a fairly active junior bridge, not as active as other countries, but quite active.

About the time when you played with Giorgio Belladonna, what memories do you have of that experience?

That was fantastic. We were invited by Philip Morris to play in the North African tournament and for several years we went over and played in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt as a guest of Philip Morris. Giorgio was the most fantastic man, lovely to play with, very entertaining, loved his Italian food, we had some great evenings, and he’s one of my favourite partners I can remember playing with.

Justin and Jason are one of the best pairs in the world but they have not been selected for the English open team, what is the best method to select a team in your opinion?

This is what country after country all the time struggle to do, it was decided this year in England that the team would not have trials except for the seniors who did have trials and they selected a team by a group of the selection committee, there is a very good case for trials. I think probably the best method is if you have an outstanding individual who can watch and see how the teams are going, that may be best. I think the Dutch have that particular system and the Dutch are now producing a very strong team. In America where you have so many good players doing trials is probably one of the best ways for that particularly country.

You are the captain of the European team involved with the Buffett cup. Is there another Buffett cup?

Next Buffett cup is due to be in Omaha (Nebraska, USA). In Chicago this year it was decided that we would like Buffett to attend his own tournament, as you know he is not as young as some of us, Omaha is where he lives we made the conscious decision to go to Omaha and play the Buffett cup for this year there, and we open that the next one is going to be in Gleneagles in 2014, which is the same year when I am involved in the Commonwealth games which will be in Glasgow 2014. It is going to continue for some time, it is very popular among a lot of people.

Having time to play a team game in August should one go to Brighton or to Lille?

That’s a very delicate question I am on the English tournament committee so I would encourage people to support an English tournament. On the other hand it is a world championship and I believe you should also support world championships so I am ducking out a bit.


BTCC  team

June 8, 2012

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